Bangkok is a city that usually leaves a nasty aftertaste for first time visitors. It’s overwhelmingly big, overpopulated, polluted, and has a constant wafting smell of garbage and sewer. The first time we were there we could not get out of it fast enough.
But then, if you give it a chance, Bangkok has the power to grow on you. The pace of the city becomes exciting instead of overwhelming. You learn to join the throngs of people instead of fighting against them. And the smells? Well, it still stinks.
We have spent the last two weeks in Bangkok. The first week we stayed in the shopping district. Our backpacks are bulging from the clothes that we just could not resist and our bellies are bulging a bit from getting our western food fix.
We explored the overpriced but amazing Siam Ocean World where we watched sharks swimming underneath us in a glass bottomed boats atop a giant fish tank. We hung out in the glass tunnel underneath the same tank watching the same sharks swim overhead. We marveled at all the different types of tropical fish and we even had a “happy fish foot bath” where we dipped our feet into a bath full of hungry little fish who went to work nibbling the dead skin off our feet….it tickles!
We explored Jim Thompson’s house. A famous architect and silk exporter who fell in love with Thailand, made a beautiful teak home on the river banks in Bangkok, revived the silk industry with a silk exporting business, and then disappeared while on vacation in Malaysia. The home was stunning, full of antiques he had collected in the six years he lived there. The highlight for us was learning how silk is made from the silkworm cocoons and actually being able to see the process first hand
.Our children got their playground fix at Lumpini Park, an oasis of green in the middle of the concrete jungle. It has been a long time since we have had a decent playground to play on and we spent an entire day there.
Our second week in Bangkok was spent in the most spectacular location along the banks of the Chao Praya River. My parents have come to travel with us for a month so we were able to find a two-bedroom apartment on AirBnB to accommodate the six of us. Being on the banks of the Chao Praya sure has its benefits! We took the riverboats almost every day, up and down the river, exploring different neighborhoods and taking in the sights.
We visited the Grand Palace, one of Thailand’s most important places. The Palace itself was as grand as its name implies but the loads of people made for a less than pleasant experience. Walking through the grounds was like taking the Hong Kong Subway at rush hour. We had to fight to get through the crowds, it was hot and sticky, and my poor children were done the second we got there. We visited at about ten in the morning…I don’t know if there is a less busy time to go but if you are going to attempt it make sure you bring a big bottle of water and a bucket load of patience.
We explored the largest outdoor market in Asia, Chatachuck weekend market. It was hard to restrain myself, so many beautiful things! But the weight of our bags won out and we left only slightly heavier than we went in buying three shirts and two wooden slingshots.
Two weeks in Bangkok was long enough for us, although we could certainly come back and spend more time here. Now our mission is to find the perfect beach spot to chill for a few weeks. Wish us luck!